I stepped into the elevator feeling full after the pizzas I’d just shared with Phil, Ted and James. They’d been good company. Phil flirty, Ted keen to show me pictures of the wife and baby he’d left in Birmingham, and James, well, I think James had a boyfriend. When he flipped his wallet to settle his portion of the bill, there was a picture of a cute guy, his age, wearing a military uniform. In the corner was a small love heart drawn in biro. He saw me looking and I smiled and hoped he realized that for me love was love and everyone deserved to be with the person who made them happy. If he’d found someone that was great. More than great—it was what life was all about.
I glanced at the elevator screen. Damn, I was going down, to the spa instead of up. Oh well. I’d had to get out of the lobby before Medusa-Fellows solidified me anyway.
The doors opened and the chlorinated air from the pool seeped in. But that barely registered in my mind, because standing in red trunks with a white towel slung around his neck was Lewis. His wet hair was mussed up and his skin dewy and damp. Fuck, the guy just got more gorgeous every time I saw him. It wasn’t a case of getting used to his stunning looks, they just bowled me over anew.
“Hello, Nicky,” he said, stepping in next to me.
“Hi.” Seriously, how could he act so cool? How could I be expected to act cool when he looked like every dirty dream and carnal fantasy rolled into one?
The doors slid shut and I pressed the button for level three. “I presume you’re going to your room and not to the lobby dressed like that?”
I glanced up at him. He was gnawing at the inside of his cheek. His shoulders were raised and tense and he was staring straight at me with a sharp glint in his eye.
“Great game, congratulations.”
“Thank you.” His words were short and clipped.
“What?” I asked, feeling unaccountably off-kilter. Was he angry with me? What had I done? I hadn’t told anyone he’d been in my room for tea. I hadn’t even told anyone we’d ever spoken outside of the press conferences.
“You told me…” he said, “that…”
Okay, now I was really nervous. His eyes were thin slits; I could only just make out that perfect shade of deep-ocean blue through his lashes. “What did I tell you?”
“That you weren’t seeing anyone.”
He stepped toward me, big and brooding. His sudden indomitable expression was more than a little disturbing.
I backed up and my shoulders hit the cool mirrored wall.
He followed, penning me in. He was all acres of perfect flesh, toned muscles and steely determination. My stomach somersaulted, my heart rate rocketed and I gripped the brass bar that lined the elevator. I’d never felt so physically small in my life.
“So who was the guy who thought it was okay to wrap his arms around you at the press conference?”
“That was just Phil.” My voice was a little squeaky, but I wasn’t complaining, I was surprised I could even speak. Why the hell would Phil matter to Lewis?
I nodded. “Yes, just Phil.” I could smell Lewis now, a combination of chlorine, soap and raw maleness. As he spoke his sweet breath breezed warm onto my cheek and sent a sizzle of awareness shooting down my middle, tickling my nipples and creating a buzz in my clitoris. This man did seriously dangerous things to my body, like letting it think it was in charge of my brain.
“So he’s not your boyfriend?”
“No, definitely not. Phil is a work colleague who gets a bit flirty now and then. But I hardly know him really.”
I wasn’t sure if I’d said the right thing because a small muscle flexed and un-flexed in Lewis’ cheek and his nostrils flared.
“Really, there’s nothing between us,” I said. “I’m free as a bird, no one to answer to, no one to—”
“Stop talking.” He glanced at the elevator dashboard then turned his attention back to me.
“Because I want to test a theory.” He nipped my chin between his thumb and index finger, tilted my head and dropped his face until his lips were just a hair’s-breadth from mine.
“What theory would that be?” I whispered, wondering if my knees would continue to hold me up for more than another few seconds. Damn, he was so close. I felt completely consumed by him.
“The kiss-and-tell theory.”
“Oh, well I—”
My words were cut short as his mouth connected with mine. Smooth, pliant lips and a softly probing tongue taking possession, owning and controlling.
A small whimper mewed up from my throat. Fuck. Lewis Tate was kissing me. And not only that he was one hell of a kisser. Gentle but firm, and he tasted delicious; fresh and sexy and perhaps a tang of mint.
I opened up and let him in. Searched for his tongue with mine and allowed him to set the pace and depth. Surely I was in the middle of a fantastic dream. How had I got so lucky to have such an incredible man kissing me?
He kept a tight hold of my chin as he pulled away. “You’re so sweet,” he murmured, his downcast gaze searching my face. “So please don’t prove my instincts wrong.”
“What instincts?” I was struggling to catch my breath, control the tremble in my belly.
There was a sudden ping, the elevator jolted to a stop, and the doors slid open.
Lewis backed up rapidly, gripped the ends of the towel that was still around his neck, and squared his stance.
A waiter holding an ice bucket stared in at us.
“Good evening,” Lewis said, stepping past him.
I followed, tightening my purse over my shoulder and avoiding the waiter’s curious stare. Surely he hadn’t seen the captain of the England football team pressing me against the wall and kissing me into oblivion. He’d stepped away by the time the doors had slid open.